Reuters: Iraqis rejoice as U.S. troops leave Baghdad
Credit where credit is due, as they say.
By midnight tonight, Iraq's cities will again belong to Iraq. The military will stop policing the streets, and shift to ferreting out insurgents in the countryside. Who knows how long that will take. So sure, we've merely moved to "imperial occupation lite," but I'll take it for now.
The problem is that attacks on US troops will continue for as long as we have occupying forces on the ground, and it will be politically difficult to leave as long as attacks on US troops continue (Look! Iraq is unstable! It's on the verge of collapse!). On top of that, insurgent forces will claim "victory" no matter when we leave. It remains the best choice to get ground forces out as soon as logistically possible.
Obama should order a complete withdrawl while he still has the political capital to pull it off. A prolonged retraction will be difficult and bloody. Ultimately, that is the choice Obama has to make: take a cautious approach, saving his approval rating; or withdraw quickly and completely, saving American and Iraqi lives.